My Dad is a simple kind of guy, born at the very tail end of the Great Depression, 1939 to be exact, in rural Western Kentucky. The memories that I know of his childhood, seem to involve lots of hard work, not much money, but a stable home and VERY mischievous little boy.
My Dad has the great privilege (I believe) to still live at the exact place where he grew up. I’ve often wondered what that feels like, to get up and look out the back door across the same yard that you’ve looked across for sixty some odd years? What a sense of place he must have. We moved to that house when I was a child of eight, and I can tell you, that place pulls me like no other on earth. I can’t imagine how it must feel for him. Not only was he born on this land, my Grandfather was born several hundred yards away on an adjoining piece of property. For someone who has moved nearly two hundred miles away, with probably no hope of ever moving back, it makes my heart yearn sometimes for home when I think of them. I know it’s just dirt, but it’s such a part of who he is.
Daddy has worked hard all his life, hard physical labor. He’s a fine carpenter, can do a little plumbing, imagines himself as an electrician, does a good job at finishing concrete, will try all types of mechanical work, you name it. He’s your typical jack of all trades. For several years he and my Mom also put out a tobacco crop, I don’t know if any of you have had the “pleasure” of working in a tobacco patch, but I’m here to tell you, there is no harder work that I know of. Now that he is retired, he can’t sit still, he has a big garden, mows probably four acres or so and piddles constantly.
Daddy would be a great Survivor contestant for a while. He’d have shelter built in nothing flat, I think he’d have them a fire fairly quickly. Even at 69 I think he’d probably be able to shimmy up a tree and fetch some coconuts, though the snakes would be a BIG problem, he’s really good in the water, his balance is impeccable, (I always loved to watch him walk rafters when I was a kid, and tier poles in a tobacco barn was nothing to him). His downfall in Survivor would be the alliances and the backstabbing. Once he gave his word and said that he was with you – that would be it. The nuances of the game would totally baffle him!
My Dad didn’t have the opportunity, or probably the desire to go to college. He isn’t scholarly at all, but he is one of the brightest people I know. If I’m ever stranded on a deserted island – Ronald is the man that I want with me! His ingenuity is second to none. Give the man a roll of duct tape and some baling wire and he’ll build you anything you need. He wastes nothing, his imagination is limitless, his mind is ever turning, and he sees everything around him. Want to know how anything mechanical works – just ask. He has a general idea. Not exact, not perfect, but he has pondered, to himself and wondered about it and will share his thoughts, BUT only if asked!
And honestly, I started this post to tell you some of the funny things that he has invented through the years; but there was no stopping point. There was simply too much at one time to do it justice, so I promise that I will pull out things from time to time and introduce Ronald stories to you. Many already know and have experienced them first hand, so you newbies, get ready!
So, I guess my point here is this; there is wisdom and knowledge in this world beyond academia that we should all value. Should we encourage our kids to go to college – sure. But the kinds of things that my Dad knows he didn’t learn in an MBA program or while studying for his dissertation. He learned it while living his life. He’s intelligent, inventive and as I’ve said, bright. Blessed with the kind of knowledge and work ethic that enabled generations before him to manage in much tougher times that we’ll ever face.
And he’s one smart cookie in my book.
Happy Father’s Day!!!!